Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - As standards and expectations have increased, a handful of school districts in Onondaga County have decided to start full-day kindergarten for the first time.
Skaneateles, West Genesee and North Syracuse have all extended the school day for the lowest grade level joining the majority of districts in the area who already have it.
North Syracuse school leaders say they want to ensure children aren't falling behind right from the beginning.
Last spring the school board voted to start full day kindergarten in September and in just six short months, they've accomplished it complete with a revamped curriculum, color coded tables, locker areas and bathrooms in the classrooms.
"With the expectations and the Common Core, this gives us more opportunity, more time with students to focus on things like writing and reading and the core subject areas. It is a good time," said Interim Superintendent of North Syracuse Schools Annette Speach.
"We're going deeper as far as into the instruction so students master some of the information. We're doing more with writing, more with problem solving to meet the 21st century learner," said Dan Bowles, the Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning for North Syracuse Schools.
Space was one of the biggest barriers holding the district back from having full day kindergarten, but now with declining enrollment, they have the room to accommodate full-day kindergarten.
"We were at a point with space, space worked in our favor finally and we were able to take advantage of the funding for full-day kindergarten," Speach said.
$3.2 million from the state will fully fund the increase for the first two years - but after that - the district has to pick up the cost.
The district says it will continually meet with teachers to see what's working, what's not.
"We really pulled off one of the great needs for the North Syracuse School District and its been working quite well," Dan Bowles
The district will have to look at changes to first grade for next year because it will be the first time full-day students will be entering that grade.
Baldwinsville and Fayetteville-Manlius are the lone Onondaga County schools still with half-day kindergarten.
Dr. Corliss Kaiser, Superintendent of the Fayetteville-Manlius School District says the district will present its concerns for a full-day of kindergarten to their board in December.
She says the board may make a decision prior to budget time.